In Season: Cheese please

Spring vegetables do well with a handful of feta, an infusion of Roquefort or a sprinkling of Parmesan.

Salad 370 (photo credit: Daniel Layla)
Salad 370
(photo credit: Daniel Layla)
Spring is here, and as the evenings get warmer and the holiday season with its endless heavy meals looms on the horizon, a few tasty lighter alternatives for dinner seem very attractive. Adding goat and sheep cheeses to salads and baked vegetables can result in tasty and interesting meals that are a breeze to prepare.

Makes 6
The sweetness of the potatoes is complemented by the sharpness of the piquant cheeses. A colorful light meal.
✔ 6 large sweet potatoes
✔ 1 kg. kosher salt
✔ 50 gr. butter, cubed
✔ 50 gr. Tnuva Roquefort cheese, crumbled
✔ 250 gr. Piraeus Hemed cheese, sliced lengthwise to 1⁄2-cm strips
✔ 1⁄2 bunch chives
✔ 50 gr. kosher Parmesan style cheese, grated
✔ Freshly ground pepper
✔ 2 Tbsp. olive oil
Heat oven to 180º. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Pour salt on the baking sheet and spread evenly. Place unpeeled sweet potatoes on the salt and bake for 1 hour or until tender. Remove from oven but do not switch heat off. Cut potatoes halfway lengthwise, and widen the slit a little using a knife. Place butter, cheeses and chopped chives in the slit, sprinkle Parmesan cheese and pepper on top and drizzle with olive oil. Bake 3 to 4 minutes until cheese melts a little and becomes golden.
Serve immediately.
Makes 6
Known as a vegetarian steak, the meaty Portobello mushroom is great for filling and makes a very impressive dairy starter.
✔ 6 Portobello mushrooms, stems removed
✔ 1⁄4 cup olive oil
✔ 200 gr. 5% fat Safed salty feta (Piraeus), crumbled
✔ 50 gr. Tnuva Roquefort cheese, crumbled
✔ 50 gr. walnuts, chopped
✔ 2 sprigs basil, leaves only
✔ 3 sprigs thyme, leaves only
✔ Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 180º.
To prepare filling: In a bowl, mix together two cheeses, herbs and nuts. Prepare 6 squares of aluminum foil about 20x20 cm. Rub a little oil in the center of each square. Place a mushroom on each square and fill with cheese mixture. Drizzle a little oil in each mushroom and fold the foil into a small parcel. Make sure the parcels are closed tight. Place all the parcels on a baking sheet and bake 8 minutes. Carefully open the parcels and place mushrooms on plates. Drizzle a little oil and serve immediately.
Makes 6
Panzanella is an Italian bread salad. Traditionally made with croutons baked from dry leftover bread, it can be made from store-bought croutons, but the taste is not as good.
For the croutons:
✔ 1 baguette or 1⁄4 halla
✔ 4 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ Coarse salt
✔ Dry hot chili flakes
For the dressing:
✔ 1⁄2 cup olive oil
✔ 1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar
✔ 1 tsp. mustard
✔ 1 Tbsp, sugar
✔ Salt and pepper to taste
✔ Juice of 1⁄2 orange
For the salad:
✔ 1 basket small cherry tomatoes
✔ 100 gr. moist dry tomatoes, chopped
✔ 20 Kalamata olives or other good-quality dark olives, pitted and halved
✔ 250 gr. sheep feta 20% Piraeus, crumbled
✔ 1⁄2 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
✔ Leaves of 1⁄2 bunch basil, chopped
To prepare croutons: Heat oven to 180º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Tear bread into pieces about 2 cm in size. Spread bread pieces on the baking sheet, drizzle with oil, sprinkle salt and pepper and mix with hands. Bake about 8 minutes only until ends of croutons begin to brown.
To prepare dressing: Place all the ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake well until mixed.
In a bowl, mix tomatoes, olives, cheese and herbs. Add croutons and dressing. Toss and serve.
Recipes and photos courtesy of Tnuva Piraeus cheeses.